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NHL Center Ice gets a free, three-week preview on cable

New Jersey Devils' Dainius Zubrus, right, is sent flying by New York Islanders' Josh Bailey during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Excellent TV news as the 2009-10 NHL season opens Thursday night:

Most of the nation's major cable companies - including Cablevision, which owns WatchDog - will offer a free preview of the out-of-market NHL Center Ice package from Oct. 1 through . . . Oct. 24!?

Yup, free hockey for three-plus weeks. It's a nice service for fans who might need a breather on nights when Yankees playoff games hit the two-hour mark in the bottom of the fourth.

Not-so-excellent TV news as the NHL season opens:

DirecTV and Versus still have not resolved their carriage dispute, so the league's national pay TV partner evidently will not be seen for now on the nation's largest satellite service.

Elsewhere on the free sports on TV front . . . Dish, Verizon FiOS, Comcast and other carriers of the NFL RedZone channel will be offering a free preview from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Cablevision and Time Warner do not currently carry the channel, which is similar to but a separately produced version of DirecTV's "Sunday Ticket" Red Zone channel, which cuts to games when teams are close to the end zone.

Photo: AP

Tags: free hockey

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